The Cleveland Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series with a 4-3 win in Game 3 at Fenway Park on Monday night.
By clinching their first trip to the American League Championship Series since 2007, the Indians brought to a close Boston’s season, but also, the career of designated hitter David Ortiz, who spent the final 14 years of his career with the Red Sox.
Having managed Ortiz for eight years before moving on to the Indians, manager Terry Francona felt privileged to be in Fenway Park for the final game of the Boston great’s career.
“That was an honor to be on the field for his last game,” Francona said. “I think you can see by the way the fans reacted, their outpouring of affection for him. That was an honor.”
Although Ortiz was limited to just one hit in nine at-bats in the ALDS against the Indians, he finished his postseason career with 88 hits over 85 games, including 22 doubles and 17 home runs with 61 runs batted in, another 51 scored and 59 walks.
Four times during his postseason career, Ortiz carried a batting average of .300 or better, including a .400 mark in leading the Red Sox to the World Series Championship in 2004. It was in 2004 that the Red Sox came back from an 0-3 deficit against the New York Yankees in the ALCS and swept their way past the St. Louis Cardinals for the city’s first World Championship since 1918.
Ortiz would help lead Boston to two more World Series championships.
“I think David embraces the moment,” Francona said. “I think some people go to Boston and it can overwhelm you a little bit. David, from the minute he got there, seems like he embraced it and it brought out his personality, and you've got to be good to do what he does.
“He knows that what he does is good enough. He doesn't have to do more. And I don't think people realize how smart he is as a hitter, too. He's one of the more intelligent hitters I've ever seen. He studies a lot. I don't know if he says it or not, but I've seen it. And you better not fall under a pattern with him, because he'll be the first one to know.”
While Ortiz had a penchant for delivering big hits in the postseason, the Indians limited him to just one hit and one RBI in the series, and they did that having to pitch to him with runners on base and walking him only twice.
“I love David,” Francona said. “I don't want him to beat us. And when he's in the batter's box it makes me nervous. The problem is is the guys in front of him, the guys behind him make me nervous, too. They've done a really good job of building and constructing a lineup.
“If you're a pitcher you can't take a hitter off or you're going to pay for it. And if you want to walk anybody, if you continue to do that, they're going to score, also. Sometimes, you just have to get good hitters out.”